« Ex-Interior official gets 10 months | Main | Dick Cheney kills 77,000 salmon »

Tearing Down the Wall

Since the earliest days of the United States of America, the idea that religion should be separate from the state has been a cornerstone of American society. Indeed, it is what allows true freedom of religion; that is, the freedom to practice any religion, or none at all, as we all as individuals see fit. Most of America's religious people understand the importance of this separation.

Or not. As Americans United for the Separation of Church and State report, the idea of religious freedom is under direct assault by Christian fundamentalists. That, in itself, might not be news to everyone, but the fundies seem to have new and strange bedfellows: the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). PBS will soon broadcast a program entitled, "The Wall of Separation," which basically seeks to deconstruct the idea that America's founding fathers envisioned a nation that kept religion out of government and government out of religion.


The program was produced by an outfit called Boulevard Pictures. The Boulevard website informs us that, "...what would surprise most Americans is the discovery that (the separation of church and state) is not what the Founding Fathers of our country intended when they established our nation and wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They in fact had a radically different definition of establishment and the role of religion in state and federal governments than we do today. So radical, in fact, that some say the modern understanding of the role of religion in the public square is exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended."

The Americans United for the Separation of Church and State article identifies Brian Godawa, the writer and director of "The Wall of Separation," as quite the "interesting character." Per the article, "Godawa did movie reviews for a time for the Chalcedon Foundation's Web site. Those of you who follow religion and politics will recognize Chalcedon as the nerve center of Christian Reconstructionism, the most militant wing of the Religious Right. Godawa also was a featured speaker at the American Vision's '2006 Worldview Super Conference,' a Reconstructionist event." A quick peek at the Chalcedon website reveals a tremendous influence of one R. J. Rushdoony. Mr. Rushdoony greets visitors to Chalcedon's website with the following quote, "History has never been dominated by majorities, but only by dedicated minorities who stand unconditionally on their faith." There may be an element of truth to that statement, but it is also quite telling with regard to the true aims of the Chalcedon organization; specifically, that a dedicated minority of Christian fundamentalists can rewrite history to their liking. By extension, it is safe to assume that Godawa's intent in producing "The Wall of Separation" is cast in Chalcedon's mold.

For a shining example of what happens when religion and politics unite, one need look no further than Iran, which has an official state religion, Shi'a Islam.

We must not allow dedicated minorities rewrite the core of American tradition on the behalves of others. I don't begrudge Christian fundamentalists their right to practice their religion, but I do begrudge them for their efforts to turn America into a christianist version of Iran.


There is a popular saying among some, that "Freedom of religion means freedom from religion." But this is hardly the case, never has been. The line between religion and politics has always been heavily blurred throughout American history.

The only thing our Constitution allows for is the prohibition of the establishment of a state religion. After that, if you have a majority Buddhist population who wishes to elect Buddhist candidates to write laws that "reflect" Buddhist beliefs, you have to elect someone to oppose them.

While a few of the Founders were famously "deistic," and while most of them had experienced the bitter religious sectarianism that had bloodied Europe for centuries, all of them to a man agreed that religion was integral to the moral health and order of the republic.

This blurring of religion and politics often leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth--pious preening has to be one of the least attractive traits in a person--but I have to recognize this has always been part of our history. Outside matters of pure science, secularism itself is actually very limited in its ability to counter Christian "religionists." Indeed it is a battle that ultimately must be fought between Christians.

--or rather fought "between people of faith."


One can expect any legislator to craft laws that reflect said legislator's values, and often those values will have been shaped to varying degrees by the legislator's experiences with religion, philosphy, social mores, etc. I don't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with legislators who intend to use the platform of democracy to leverage their goals of forcing all of society to adhere to their narrow (and usually literalist) interpretations of faith and religious doctrine.

I suppose that in a democracy, it is inevitable that some such individuals will end up elected to public office. Democracy is not a perfect system. Such is democracy's soft underbelly.

It seems to me that even religious individuals (or perhaps especially religious individuals) would be sensitive to the perils of creating governing bodies that build upon very specific religious views, particularly if those views are contrary to the individual's. So, perhaps you're right - such a battle might need to be fought among Christians (here in America) primarily.

The language used by the Boulevard Pictures folks is worded in a deliberately disarming manner, but it reminds me of David Duke's famous, "We're not anti-black; we're pro-white," statements. To paraphrase, "We're not Christofascists; we just want to rewrite history to reflect a Christian fundamentalist worldview."

Thanks for your thoughts - you usually have interesting things to say.

Dear Sir,
I hereby write to seek your kind Donation of Books and other study
materials from your Department and members of your Faculty . As the Dean of
my School at the royal College Of Science & Technology, I feel
challenged by what I
call acute shortage of reading Materials (Books) for both our students
and Faculty Staff. Our College is a Co-Educated Model University
sponsored by State Government The College for sometime now has been
experiencing neglet,lack of care and sponsorship by by the Government and all
the Authorities concerned and I feel the only way we can keep going is by
soliciting for external Donation of your left over or unused Desk
copies of Text Books,Dictionaries,Encyclopeadia,Tapes and FAIRLY used
Laptop computers,Table Top Computers, Projectors, VCR Recorders, Audio
visual aid and other learning materials such as SAT, GRE, GMAT,TOEFL and
other Professional Examination Pack for our ever increasing Students which
has grown to an astronomical heights and population in the School
.These Books and materials would be used by the entire Students and the
Faculty Staff of our
College.Please we NEED Books that are less than
ten or twenty (10 or 20) years old.We will be very grateful if our
request would granted by you .
While we remain, we look forward to favourable reply by you.
Dr M.C. Chibuzor, Dean,
Royal College of Science & Technology
College Park, PO Box 74961
Victoria Island , 101007-74961
Lagos ,
Tel;+ 234 805 898 5899
Fax; + 2341 791 2869

Dr M.C. Chibuzor:

What's the most you ever lost in a coin toss?

Post a comment

Get GLONO merch!